Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.

1.31.2014

Sip Tip: Sipping Safer in Sub-Zero Temps

1.31.2014

Recently, a University of Minnesota college student had all of her fingers, her two thumbs, and most of her toes amputated.  After a night out with friends, she played drinking games, did shots, and later was dropped off at her house.  Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, police believe she stumbled back outside of the house, and eventually ended up on her neighbor's porch.  She spent the night outside in the below zero temps, causing her hypothermia and frostbite.  The frostbite was so severe that it led to the amputations and her continued stay in the hospital (over a month already).  To read more her situation, click here.

The winter is especially biting, and while we're lucky not to live in a place that drops below zero too often, we can still be mindful of ways to be safer while out this winter.

If you're hosting a party, consider having a room just for coats, and make sure it's secure so people feel safe leaving their coats there.  It's cold and being able to go to a party with a coat on will make it that much more likely that people will attend.  Also, be sure to provide plenty of water, as people may misjudge how dehydrated they may actually be due to the cold temps.

If you're thinking of going out, dress in layers and protect your body from mother nature.  Wear gloves, hats, scarves-- whatever will keep you warm.  There may be a place to stash those items when you get to your destination.  If you would rather dress for the company than the weather, consider ways to stay warm in between- can you take a car from one place to another to avoid the cold?  What about wearing something that has less value to you?  This way, if it gets ruined or lost, it won't devastate you, but you'll be warm while you have it.


When alcohol is thrown into the mix of going out, it can throw a few more concerns up. If you're thinking of drinking, try to stay in the blue zone.  This means, sticking to about 1 to 2 drinks an hour with water in between each one.  If you want to warm up, try having a cup of tea or even hot chocolate (it is winter after all).  In terms of warmth, don't be fooled by the warmth that comes from alcohol.  “When you drink, it dilates the peripheral blood vessels near your skin, which means more blood – and heat – flows to these vessels,” says Professor Colin Drummond, head of the Section of Alcohol Research at King’s College London. “That takes blood and heat away from the core of your body. So while it feels like you’re warm because your skin is warm, your vital organs aren’t as warm as you might think they are."  This can lead to hypothermia, particularly if a person tries to walk outside for a while or gets stuck outside as the young woman in the story above did.  Lastly, be sure to stay with the group of friends you came with-- be accountable to each other and check in with each other throughout the night, as well.

Winter doesn't mean the end of going out, but there are ways to do so safely.  Have fun, stay warm, and party safer.



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